THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD

Jackson’s latest retells Stephen King’s Carrie with electric social commentary.

Springville, inspired by real towns in the United States that still have segregated proms, has a lot of learning to do. No one knows this better than Madison Washington, a light-skinned biracial girl who has grown up with her White father and has been passing for White her entire life. At least, until a surprise rainy day during gym class exposes her hair’s natural texture and her Black ancestry and she’s outed against her will. Her White classmates react by throwing pencils at her hair, and a video of the incident goes viral. White senior Wendy, concerned about looking good to potential colleges, decides to try to reverse the negative press by advocating for Springville’s first ever integrated prom. Feeling guilty about her role in Maddy’s bullying, she also convinces Kendrick Scott, her Black boyfriend, to ask Maddy to the prom as an act of goodwill. Fans of King’s novel and its film adaptations will know this doesn’t end well for anyone. Jackson’s expert reshaping of this tale highlights the genuine horrors of both internalized and externalized anti-Blackness, as with the way she weaponizes Maddy’s father’s hot comb as a symbol of terror and subjugation. In this masterwork novel, a teen girl—mistreated from birth by a racist society—finally gets her revenge.

Horror done right. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-302914-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told.

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SOLO

The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love.

On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion.

A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-310-76183-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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